Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Business competition funds winning startups


The Edward K. Aldag Business Plan Competition will award three University of Alabama students $50,000 in start up funds and in-kind services to make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality. To apply, students must submit a three-minute video pitch, two-page executive summary and proposed budget by Friday at 11:59 p.m. The deadline was extended due to the recent snow.

(See also “Snow, ice shut down Alabama“)

Lou Marino, professor of entrepreneurship and strategic management and coordinator for the Entrepreneurship Program in the Culverhouse College of Commerce, said the friendly competition allows students to network with local business leaders.

“If you don’t enter, you can’t win. There is no danger in the process, and everyone gets positive feedback to take their ideas to the next level,” Marino said. “Try to talk to some people who might actually use your product and get their feedback.”

Marino said 10 students applied for the competition last year. The number is up this year, with 15 to 20 students applying so far. The pool of candidates will be narrowed down to five students for the final round. The three students selected will share $15,000 for their startup businesses. They will also receive $35,000 worth of in-kind prizes, including work space at The Edge and free consulting from accountants and attorneys. The students will share another $5,000 for incidental expenses.

(See also “Idea pitch competition gives students look into business world“)

J. Michael Hardin, dean of Culverhouse College of Commerce, said he believes the competition gives students great experience that they can use after graduation.

“Many companies give you six months to contribute and earn your place. It is important to show your value,” Hardin said. “This competition helps students pick up the entrepreneurial attitude and provides opportunities to prepare for the next level.”

In the fall, the Culverhosue College of Commerce hosts multiple training sessions to get students ready for the pitch competition, as well as the business competition in the spring.

Katherine McLarney, a senior majoring in finance and economics, said she has been working at Forza Financial for the past four years. Forza Financial won the business plan competition last year, even though the business had opened three years prior.

“The Business Plan Competition provided Forza Financial with the opportunity to expand,” McLarney said. “The office space and prize package helped Forza decrease operating expenses, which allowed us to further ‘Build a Better Alabama’ by continuing to provide financial capital, seminars and business coaching to local entrepreneurs.”

Last year was the pilot stage for the business competition. The competition is open to all UA students, regardless of major or background. All students are encouraged to apply, no matter how big or small the business idea may be.

Michael Aronowitz, a senior majoring in business management created Tutor Me Now after winning the competition. His tutoring service assists UA students in various academic topics. Aronowitz said the company was founded in 2012 with the help of former Alabama long snapper Carson Tinker.

(See also “Students establish tutoring business“)

“Winning the Edward K. Aldag Business Plan Competition has impacted my personal goals in ways that it allowed for me to save and manage my money in order to move forward, especially if I chose to continue pursuing this career after graduation,” Aronowitz said. “It set the foundation for Tutor Me Now to grow as a company. It really shows you in the professional world that you are capable of accomplishing your goals. You just have to put forth the effort.”

The competition will conclude with a live finale Thursday, Feb. 27, at The Edge in downtown Tuscaloosa. For more information or to apply for the competition, go online at

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